Salvation Army pastor lifelong ‘soldier’ |

Salvation Army pastor lifelong ‘soldier’

Rhonda costa-landers
Belinda Grant/Nevada Appeal Capt. Erica Helton is the new Salvation Army pastor.

At first glance, a person may not see Erica Helton as a pastor. But looks are deceiving.

Capt. Erica Helton is a “fifth-generation” Salvation Army pastor. Her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are also pastors.

Helton, 30, thoroughly enjoys her job, and has truly lived her life with the Salvation Army.

“I’m very outgoing, energetic, enthusiastic and enjoy what I do,” she said.

Helton is the first person to be assigned to Carson City as a solo pastor. She replaces Majors Charles and Diana Norris, who were sent to Yuba City, Calif. Helton comes from Concord, Calif.

“I worked with two other officers, a couple, in Concord for two years.

“I don’t want to say I’m better equipped – but I do have the skills to do this appointment. And I tend to be very passionate about youth ministry. I had a long history in my family with the Salvation Army before I made the choice of this calling.”

Helton was commissioned a lieutenant in 2000. After Army reconfigured its rankings, she was made a captain in April 2001.

In Carson City, Helton has two priorities.

“The first concern is getting more funding for the morning Latch Key program. We have gotten money from the Carson City Council on Youth – $7,000, I think – and programs like this take $17,000 to $20,000 per year for five employees, to pay for adequate supervision and adequate supplies.”

Helton said the Carson City program is much more reasonable in cost compared to others she has been involved with.

“But this is a service we will do whether we have the resources or not because it’s necessary.”

Her second concern is finding a distribution center for Christmas services. The Salvation Army offices and church at 661 Colorado St. just aren’t big enough.

“We don’t have the capacity to store supplies here.

“And I was raised with the Salvation Army Christmas. I’m very prepared for what’s to come,” she added with a smile. “I don’t know what I’d do without it. I live for the stress.”

Born in San Francisco, Helton was raised in Boise, Idaho, from age 3 to 12.

“I feel like I’ve been everywhere,” she said. “Hawaii; Hobbs, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Santa Monica, Calif. And with my friends and support group, I feel very blessed to be with the Salvation Army. I’m very excited to come to a new place and meet new people. I’m only 30, and feel like I have 35 years left to give.”

Helton does not see her age as something that would be against her as a pastor and community leader.

“I feel people will be more attracted to my personality. I will help put people into practice with God and the community, not only through my words, but action.

“I also feel my enthusiasm, energy and excitement may make them more aware of what the Salvation Army does. There are a lot of exciting things going on.”

Helton attended the barbecue Sunday for firefighters, families and the community in appreciation of the Waterfall fire effort. She was impressed with the number of service clubs and volunteers there.

“It’s important to have many hands working in the community,” she said. “I’m thankful for every person who gave time and talent in relief of the situation.”

Helton had only been on the job about 10 days when the fire broke out.

“I met the mayor. He was very nice, and many in the community. I have fallen in love with the area and community. It is a very relaxing and friendly place to be.”

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.